One way to honor World Press Freedom Day: Imagine that world without broad access to information.

One way to honor World Press Freedom Day: Imagine that world without broad access to information.

Maybe it’s because I just came off a whirlwind week of journalism events—conferences hosted by Unity Journalists, the Society of Professional Journos, and the annual E.W. Scripps awards dinner—but there may be no better time to tout the value of a free press.

Which is why I’m happy to remind us all that today is World Press Freedom Day. As organizers describe it, “It is an opportunity to: celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”

Read more about it here.

World Press Freedom Day 2016 1

This seems like a good day to point out that you should:

  • Hug a journalist.
  • Renew or subscribe to a news source you value.
  • Share with others great coverage you cherish, whether it’s about your community, your nation, or your world.
newsroom hug tumblr_inline_n81uveZnDS1r5hgbb World Press Freedom Day

Bring it in …

And don’t forget to hug a journalist.

journalist hug bbc 5710d4d1220000290025398c World Press Freedom Day

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This week's journalism conference in Phoenix covers many topics of public interest. spj valley of the sun header cropped

This week’s journalism conference in Phoenix covers many topics of public interest.

I am pleased to share news of two conferences in Phoenix this week (April 28-30) that may serve your needs—in multiple ways. Aimed primarily at journalists, they will be of interest to anyone attuned to public policy, communications, criminal justice, and immigration.

I am helping to organize one of the journo conferences, with the Society of Professional Journalists, and I urge you to consider attending both of them. Links and agendas to each are below:

The Society of Professional Journalists Western Regional conference is on Friday and Saturday, April 29 (evening reception) and 30 (all day):

  • The Friday evening reception will be at Macayo’s. The conference will be at the Heard Museum. And the post-conference mixer on Saturday evening will be at the Clarendon Hotel’s Sky Deck.
  • The keynote of Saturday’s offerings will be a one-on-one interview of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini (for reals).
  • The full conference schedule is here.

Unity Journalists for Diversity logoAnd the UNITY: Journalists for Diversity conference is on Friday, April 29 (all day) at the ASU Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix:

  • The full conference schedule is here.
  • A day before the summit, Thursday, April 28, UNITY in partnership with ONE Arizona will hold a free special town hall meeting and panel discussion on immigration. The town hall will take place at Puente Human Rights Movement from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Register here.
  • UNITY also will be hosting a free rooftop networking reception at Hotel San Carlos on Friday, April 29, immediately following the Regional Summit from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Register here.

I’m helping organize the SPJ event, and I’ll be attending the UNITY conference Friday too. For a pretty modest outlay of dollars, this looks like some great content. I hope you can attend some or all of this!

Arizona Justice Robert Brutinel

Justice Robert Brutinel

A panel discussion on Friday, October 17, will cover recent changes to the Arizona rules controlling use of mobile devices in courtrooms. Sponsored by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, it will feature Justice Robert Brutinel, who chaired the 2013 committee whose recommendations led to the changes.

Those changes specifically were made to Supreme Court Rule 122.1 (use of mobile devices in courtrooms) and Rule 122 (video, audio and still photography in courtrooms).

As the Coalition describes the free event, “Learn what is permissible use of smartphones, tablets or laptops in Arizona state courtrooms and what is not, as well as the latest regarding use of cameras and recorders in court.”

The discussion will be held at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix.

The RSVP page (and more information) can be found here.

The local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is a member organization I’m proud to call home. And that chapter is a charter member of the First Amendment Coalition. I hope you come out to join journalists, lawyers, law students and others as we hear about this important and evolving topic.

Society of Professional Journalists logoThis next item is a little market-y. Let me state that up front.

But if any of you have marketing and communications professionals in your firm or office (or if you do that work yourself), consider stopping by ASU SkySong tomorrow morning.

That’s where you’ll get to: (1) hear directly from news professionals across multiple media, (2) pitch your story (if you’d like), targeting your idea/story to the channels and niches that best serve your goals, and (3) have coffee with me.

OK, that last one may not be a big draw. But this is about my third year participating in the Society of Professional Journalists event, and it’s terrific. It includes some great panel discussions, followed by speed-pitching. Communications pros are there pitching ideas to TV, radio, newspapers, and even us monthly magazine folks.

Here’s a poster:

SPJ Publicity Summit 2014 pubsum14updated

Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few great pitches. But the great part about it is the speed-dating quality. A few minutes’ investment gets you some feedback, at least, and maybe a bite on the line.

More information is here and here. (Pre-registration may be closed by the time you read this, but there will likely be availability at the door.)

The location, again, is 1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale (2nd floor of SkySong 1 building, the NE building of the complex).

And because I know you’re curious, here is the latest list of journalists who will be there:

“JOURNALISTS SIGNED UP TO ATTEND INCLUDE: Kathy Tulumello, business editor, Arizona Republic; Nicole Crites, morning anchor, KPHO-TV (CBS5); Eric Watson, assignment editor, KPNX-TV (12 News); Al Macias, managing editor and Carrie Jung, reporter, KJZZ-FM;  Paul Ihander, news director/assistant program director, Bonneville Media-Phoenix (KTAR-FM/KTAR-AM); Melody Birkett, news director, KFYI-AM; Ilana Lowery, editor, and Hayley Ringle, technology/startups reporter, Phoenix Business Journal; Jennifer Jones, managing editor, Local News Service (CBS5, Fox10, ABC15); Heather Dunn, content director, Cronkite News Service; Sue Doerfler, deals reporter, Arizona Republic; Laurie Merrill, digital business reporter and former public safety reporter, Arizona Republic; Eric Mungenast, assistant managing editor, East Valley Tribune; Marie Look, editor-in-chief, Scottsdale MagazineCory Galvan, content editor, Frontdoors; Amanda Ventura, associate editor, AZ Big Media; Tim Eigo, editor, Arizona Attorney magazine; Kate Crowley, contributing blogger, “Chow Bella,” Phoenix New Times; RaeAnne Marsh, editor, In Business Phoenix Magazine; Teri Carnicelli, editor, North Central News; T. F. Thornton, North Valley news editor, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA; Sondra Barr, managing editor, North Valley Magazine/East Valley Magazine; Debra Utacia Krol, freelancer specializing in environmental reporting, issues involving Indian country and travel writing; Tom Gibbons, editor, Talk of Arizona online quarterly, Kristy Durkin, blogger, whereshouldweeat.com, Michelle Jacoby, editor-in-chief/publisher of the soon-to-debut (October) dining/libations quarterly, Bite (the Magazine).… ”

Society of Professional Journalists logoOh, what a luxury it is to be learning.

This past Saturday through today (Monday), I am in Anaheim, Calif., to attend an annual conference of journalists. (The hosts are the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.)

As I’ve said before, people learn in all kinds of ways. I’ve had great luck with the podcast and the webinar. But it is hard to beat the occasional face-to-face gathering, where you are not tempted to multitask as a national webinar streams into your office. Sure, it may be more challenging for busy folks to attend in-person conferences, but boyoboy they still have a place in professional education and development.

For example, I am always on the prowl for the best way to cover Arizona’s legal profession. How does a small staff analyze and share what’s important for a state full of attorneys? I am sure that lessons I learn in Anaheim will help me in that challenge.

EIJ13 Journalist conference app screenshot

#EIJ13 Journalist conference app screenshot

I plan to tweet some from the Excellence in Journalism conference (Find me here.). You can follow all the tweets at the dedicated hashtag: #EIJ13

And the conference website is here.

There is a telltale sign that this is a valuable conference: Using the terrific conference app, I started building my own schedule of preferred seminars. Much to my chagrin, in every single time period, there are competing seminars I want to attend. That, I assure you, does not happen at every event I attend!

Like all learning, the seminars run the gamut from skill-building I can use this week all the way up to aspirational tools that might improve Arizona Attorney Magazine next year. But it will be good have the mental gears turning.

(With my conference registration, I also receive two park-hopper passes to Disneyland, which is just across the street. Will I manage to get over to the Happiest Place on Earth? Time will tell.)

I will report back later with some things I learned (I reported on some previous SPJ learning here). But here (in no particular order) are a few seminars I may attend:

  • Working and thinking digital first
  • Digging deeper with social media
  • Data mining: Finding important demographic trends in Census data
  • Facebook usage survey
  • Geek out: The latest tech innovations
  • Best practices for journalists on Facebook
  • Journalism, coding and you
  • Storytelling with Instagram
  • Journalism, the Department of Justice and national security
  • Storytelling with Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Mobile newsgathering with your Smartphone
  • Immigration coverage beyond the fence
  • Effective use of social tools for reporting
  • The perfect interview: Improving your skills

When I return, I’ll give you a roundup of my takeaways (and whether I met with Mickey Mouse).

He calls that messy? A submission from @jwswrites of his messy desk (on http://spjdesklove.tumblr.com/).

He calls that messy? A submission from @jwswrites of his messy desk (on http://spjdesklove.tumblr.com/).

I’d wager the following: Anyone who has a cluttered workspace will claim that they really really really do have a system, and that it works for them. They may even go so far as to say that clutter is the sign of an active mind.

Residing among my own stacks in the cluttered category, I’ve tried floating those old canards myself. The truth is, of course, that efficient and effective people land all up and down that continuum from “hoarder” to “frighteningly neat.” Whatever works for you, works.

This month, the Society of Professional Journalists launched a fun contest in which people could send in photos of their workspace clutter. They then posted those pics on their own Tumblr page (which is worth bookmarking), and some lucky (and cluttered) person won a prize (office supplies, I think). Here’s how they put it:

“Featuring your stellar work space, courtesy of the Society of Professional Journalists. Post a picture to Twitter with the hashtag #spjdesklove and we will give your desk some Tumblr love.”

I did not submit my space for consideration, but on Change of Venue Friday, I thought I’d share it with you (see below). The image in this post represents a relatively neat period in my own pendulum swing. Don’t judge.

And how about you? Are your stacks and your clutter an ongoing challenge? Have you tamed them? If so, how? (And I really mean it: HOW? I want to know!).

Have a great weekend.

messy desk my work space

A portion of my own work area: I’m actually kind of surprised how neat my “messy desk” looks on this Friday. Things are looking up! (Full disclosure: I’ve omitted my overflowing bookshelves and various other flat surfaces.)

Attendees gather for a Legal Marketing Association event featuring a panel of in-house corporate counsel, at Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Sept. 26, 2012.

This week, I get to interact with many communications and PR professionals, and that leads me to wonder: Could their best practices align quite a bit with those of lawyers?

That thought occurred to me as I prepared to moderate a Wednesday panel at Snell & Wilmer for the Legal Marketing Association. The panel was comprised of in-house corporate counsel, and the audience included both lawyers and communications folks.

It was a blast, and I continue to be impressed by the deep level of commitment and quality that emanates from the LMA. As I said in my opening remarks, their story pitches and sharing of information are what allow us to cover our beat well.

But story pitches—and lawyers—are much on my mind this week, mainly because of a panel I will sit on this Saturday.

The “8th Annual Publicity Summit” is co-hosted by the local chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America. (Could those organization names be a little more intimidating, please?) I’ve been in the SPJ for years, and I’ll be on a panel of magazine editors, writers and reporters.

Here is how the PRSA describes the event:

“Now is your chance to secure that challenging story you have been working on or meet face-to-face with your favorite media person. [Beat] Join PRSA Phoenix Chapter and Society of Professional Journalists for the 8th Annual Publicity Summit and the opportunity to network with peers, meet key members of the Phoenix media and get your stories placed. More than 20 of The Valley’s top journalists and reporters from various media outlets across multiple beats will be in attendance.”

You can find more information and registration pages online. (Registration may be closed by the time you click the second link.)

It will be in the downtown Phoenix ASU Cronkite Journalism school. Please stop by to say hi if you’re there.

If Saturday’s group could learn anything, they should hear from members of the LMA, who routinely impress me by how well they can educate the media about lawyers and their accomplishments.

So what will the journalists be telling the PR folks? What we love love love in story pitches—and, conversely, what may be less than effective when trying to get your content placed.

The lessons that will be explained on Saturday should help those communications professionals (and us media attendees who may get great pitches). But it occurred to me that they are the same lessons that lawyers should take to heart when connecting—either with magazines or with each other.

Here is some of what I’ll discuss at the SPJ event. What other lessons would you add?

  1. Learn before you call: Like most media outlets, our magazine is available online. Plus, my own material is available via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, our website, etc. Given that, opening with “So what do you do there?” or “What kind of stuff do you guys publish?” is the path toward a very short conversation. And that’s true for lawyer connections, too: Read all you can about someone before striving to make a connection.
  2. Read our stuff: This is related to the first point, but it’s worth being explicit. Lawyers and magazines have an awful lot of their record “out there,” and it’s available via the web. Using Google to spot significant verdicts that have gone their way (or not) will help make your ultimate conversation more informed (even if you don’t explicitly bring up that searing loss!).
  3. Connect where it makes sense: Sending blanket queries to everyone and her sister simply does not work. Story ideas should be tailored to the publication and its audience. Similarly, lawyers don’t cotton to outreach that looks to have all the individuality of a widget.
  4. Reveal yourself: When you reach out to someone, let him or her know something about you and/or what you represent. Be sure your email signature provides access to relevant information. And don’t hesitate to provide links to other content that you think will make your connection to the other person more sensible.

Here’s to valuable connections! Have a great weekend.